There is a park across the street from Ella's school. As with many parks, this park is frequented by some who I assume are homeless, including one kind woman who has touched my heart. I only see her every once in a while, but have tried to stop and offer what I could. One time it was my daily apple which I usually bring in to work with me. Back in January on a particularly cold Arizona morning, shortly after I found out I was pregnant, I happened to have a $20 bill in my wallet, which I shared with her, telling her that I had been blessed and wanted to bless her.
On Tuesday morning, I saw her sitting against the lamppost, basking in the warm sun. I dropped off Ella, and then pulled out the $8 that I had in my purse and proceeded across the street, offering it to her. When she saw me--now quite visibly pregnant, as I hadn't been in January--she asked, in broken English, if I was the same woman who had given her money before, and if I was having a baby. When I shared that we were expecting a baby girl in August, she immediately starting fingering through the money I had just given her, telling me that she was looking for an "8". I tried to insist that the money was for her, and she insisted that she wanted to make something for the baby. I tried to get away by telling her that I had to get to work, but again, she pleaded that I sit down for two minutes.
And so I did. She shared that she wanted to make a crane for my unborn baby, since they are a sign of good luck in the Asian culture. With the crispiest dollar out of the stack I had given her, which I'm sure she desperately needed, she proceeded to fold and bend and smooth each corner. I tried to make small talk, sitting there on the curb across the street from my daughter's school, as other parents came and left. I asked her name, and thought that she responded that her French name was "Norie". When I asked how long she had been in Tucson, she responded that she had arrived on January 14th of the previous year, and then kindly told me that she needed to focus on the crane. I whispered that I had an apple in the car for her, and that I would be right back.
I returned as she was finishing. I placed my apple on her bag, and watched in silence as she put the final touches on the tiny paper crane, now not more than an inch big. The gift that I had tried to give her, she had returned as a beautiful gift for me. She earnestly told me that this child would be a great leader, and that I had a great task in front of me. She then asked my name, and when I responded that my name was "Laura", her eyes lit up, and she proclaimed "We have the same name!". I had misunderstood her when she shared her name, hearing an "N" in place of an "L". Her name is actually "Laurie", the French version of my same name, coming from "Laurel Tree". Learning this, Laurie because much more excited, proclaiming that God had brought us together, and explaining that none of the other mothers ever stopped for her--only me.
I don't doubt that God brought us together. I don't know why He put it on my heart to reach out to her, but in my walk with Him, I've come to realize that there is so much that I don't understand about His plan for my life, and so I just keep on going, trying to listen to that still, small voice that guides me.
In reading more about the crane in Chinese culture, I understand that it is associated with longevity and auspiciousness. I've had former International students who have shared cranes with me in the past. I don't necessary believe in "luck", but I will cherish this gift as a reminder of God's blessings in my life. I thought that I was blessing Laurie, but really, she was blessing me.